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Charlotte City Council approves civil rights resolution

City Manager Ron Carlee has said the civil rights resolution will ensure that there are no “footnotes or asterisks” to the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance “with liberty and justice for all.”
City Manager Ron Carlee has said the civil rights resolution will ensure that there are no “footnotes or asterisks” to the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance “with liberty and justice for all.” Observer File Photo

The Charlotte City Council approved a civil rights resolution Monday that says the police won’t engage in profiling or enforce federal immigration laws. The resolution also defines how the city will handle protests and demonstrations and said the city will purge data harvested from cameras and other surveillance devices.

The city crafted the resolution in part as a response to protests and rioting in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.

City Manager Ron Carlee has said the resolution will ensure that there are no “footnotes or asterisks” to the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance “with liberty and justice for all.” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, whose command staff supports the resolution, has also said its existing policies and directives cover most of the issues addressed in the resolution.

Council members approved the resolution in an 11-0 vote.

CMPD has prohibited profiling since 2009, and the resolution re-enforces that directive. The department also recently started tracking profiling complaints by citizens. The proposal will also allow the Citizens Review Board to examine complaints about profiling.

The people who spoke at Monday’s meeting were in favor of the resolution. Many praised the city and CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe, who is retiring July 1.

The Rev. Kojo Nantambu, the former president of the NAACP in Charlotte, said the resolution was a sign of what he said was a “more kinder, gentler City Council.”

One speaker, Vicki Rowan, said the city needs to go farther and explain how it will compile and analyze data on possible profiling. That information needs to be compiled and released by officer, neighborhood and police division, Rowan said.

“(Deputy Chief Kerr Putney) didn’t say what data would be collected,” Rowan said.

Mayor Dan Clodfelter said the “unfinished work” about the resolution is how CMPD will analyze data.

The resolution also states that CMPD won’t enforce federal immigration laws because it wants to have trust in the community. There are exceptions, however, if the police find a suspect is involved with terrorism or a criminal street gang.

“For too long my immigrant friends have been subjected to profiling,” Alma Hernandez said at Monday’s council meeting. “The immigrant community is leery of the police. There is such a fear that many immigrants choose to remain silent rather than seek protection.”

Hernandez works at the International House, which provides services to immigrants.

The resolution also says the city will purge information harvested from surveillance equipment such as street video cameras, license plate readers and cellphone interceptors. It doesn’t place any limits on when the technology can be used. It also doesn’t define when police would delete such information.

The council’s two Republicans, Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith, said they had concerns as to whether the resolution would hinder the ability of officers to work. But both said they had been assured by CMPD leadership that wouldn’t be the case. They voted for the resolution.

Democrat Al Austin said he supported the resolution fully.

“I’m happy, as a black man, that this is happening,” he said.

Harrison: 704-358-5160

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